The Archdiocese of New York, the second-largest diocese in the nation, has identified 120 priests and deacons accused of sexually abusing a child or having child pornography in the latest revelations in the Catholic Church’s long-running sex abuse epidemic.
The list, which includes Theodore McCarrick, the defrocked and once-powerful US cardinal, comes as the church – both in the United States and around the world – wrestles a wave of scandals that have spurred criminal investigations, roiled the faithful and damaged the institution’s moral credibility.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a letter released with the list Friday that he realizes “the shame that has come upon our church due to the sexual abuse of minors.”
“I write to ask forgiveness again for the failings of those clergy and bishops who should have provided for the safety of our young people but instead betrayed the trust placed in them by God and by the faithful,” he said.
More than 120 US dioceses have released names of accused clergy
The disclosure follows the release of lists by more than 120 dioceses around the country as the church has sought to increase transparency and rebuild trust among outraged Catholics, according to Terry McKiernan, president and co-director of the watchdog website BishopAccountability.org.
“It’s good (the New York Archdiocese) finally put out a list. There are only two other archdioceses in the country that have not. So they were long overdue,” said McKiernan, referring to those in Miami and St. Louis.
Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse consider the self-reported lists unreliable and incomplete. The lists do not detail when accusations were made, where the abuse occurred or what was done after an accusation was made.
The New York list did not include the assignment histories of the priests, the number of victims or names of clergy from other religious orders who worked in the archdiocese. Some orders have released their own lists.
“The downside is that it’s a bad list,” McKiernan said. “It leaves off religious order priests. It leaves off so called ‘externs,’ which are priests officially incardinated as they call it in a different diocese but working and sometimes abusing in New York.”
More than 13 states have launched investigations of clergy sex abuse
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests called the information released Friday “good but not enough for a complete list” and urged Dolan turn over all of his files on clergy sex abuse for an investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
More than 13 states have launched investigations into sex abuse within the Catholic Church.
The investigations followed a damning report released by a grand jury in Pennsylvania last year that accused more than 300 “predator priests” of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children in six dioceses since 1947. The majority of cases occurred before Catholic bishops in the United States instituted new child safety protocols.
The New York Archdiocese said it will update its list if more information comes forward.
“Please be assured there is not a single priest or deacon of the Archdiocese of New York against whom there has been a credible and substantiated claim of abuse against a minor currently in ministry,” Dolan said in his letter.
Highest-ranking figure expelled from the priesthood in sex abuse crisis is on the list
The archdiocese listed 53 priests and deacons who were “credibly accused” of sexually abusing a minor, admitted the allegation, were convicted of a crime or were part of a civil settlement.
The church also identified eight priests who were removed from ministry and await final canonical or archdiocesan disposition of allegations against them.
Additionally, nearly 60 other clergy members died or left the ministry before allegations against them led to financial settlements from the archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.
About three-quarters of credibly accused clergy were ordained between 1908 and 1969, according to the archdiocese. About half of the men on the list have died.
The list includes McCarrick, who was ordained in New York. He was dismissed by the Vatican in February after a church trial found him guilty of sexually abusing minors. The punishment made him the highest-ranking Catholic figure to be expelled from the priesthood over the sex abuse crisis.
McCarrick once led the Archdiocese of Washington and was recognized as a powerful advocate of the Catholic Church’s political priorities in the United States.
The same month McCarrick was defrocked, Pope Francis opened an unprecedented summit in Rome to confront what he called “this scourge of sexual abuse perpetrated by men of the church to the detriment of minors.”
The Pope urged the nearly 200 Catholic leaders convened in Vatican City to listen “to the cry of the small ones who are asking for justice” and said Catholics were not looking for simple condemnation but “concrete and effective” actions.